Introducing a new sibling into the family can be an exciting and joyous time, but it can also be a major adjustment for your other child or children. It’s important to prepare your child for the arrival of their new brother or baby sister in order to make the transition as smooth as possible for when the baby arrives.
This can involve talking to your child about what to expect, involving them in the preparation process, and giving them plenty of love and attention during this time of change. In this blog post, we’ll provide tips and advice on how to prepare your young child for a new sibling, ensuring that they feel included, loved, and excited for the newest addition to your family.
Wondering how to best prepare your child for a new sibling? Children may have a range of emotional responses to a new family member joining your crew. Unfortunately, these emotions can sometimes be negative. It is a big adjustment, a baby is born, after all! Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to help your big kid feel more involved in preparing for the new baby — and even excited about their expanded role in the family.
It’s perfectly normal to have strong reactions to a growing family. By following the advice in this article, you can make the adjustment period a little easier for everyone.
Have your child be a part of the conversation
Help them adjust to the idea of a new baby by making sure they are a part of all the fun things that come with having a new brother or sister. With older kids, like school-aged children, you can have a conversation about what to expect and how to help your child adjust to the changes.
With little kids and babies, you can’t necessarily answer the child’s questions or have a conversation, but you can include them in the whole process of preparing to be a big brother or sister.
For children old enough to talk, here are some ways to center them in the conversation:
- Ask them what they think of having a new baby in the family. Listen carefully and take notes if necessary, so you can discuss their thoughts on the matter later. They may want to draw a picture of the baby or write down their ideas in a journal. This way, they will know that their opinion matters!
- Ask your child what he or she would like to do for the baby. They might have some fun ideas for games and toys that will make life easier when caring for an infant (and help them feel more involved). And again, it’s important not just to listen but also to at on these things.
- Ask him or her what he or she thinks about the names you have picked out. Maybe they have input about it or their own favorite names.
You might be surprised by how much thought goes into making such choices but there are plenty of ways parents can make sure everything feels right before bringing home this sweet new addition. Just make sure the ways you include them and speak with them are age appropriate.
Bringing a new baby into the family is exciting, but it can also be challenging for older siblings. Telling kids about a new sibling early helps keep them from feeling anxious. Kids also need alone time with each parent. Pick something fun like reading a book together or a few extra minutes of playtime. Continue to spend this special time after the baby comes. This will reassure your child and make them less jealous.The Child Mind Institute
I highly suggest giving the article linked above a good read, too, as it gives advice depending on the child’s age.
Don’t make it all about the baby
Don’t accidentally make your child feel like they are not important or are not an equally important part of the family. You may want to explain that when baby joins the family you will need their help as a big sibling because babies need lots of extra help.
Make them a part of the event by letting them feel your tummy or joining you to doctor’s appointments when necessary. They may even get to hear baby’s heartbeat during an appointment!
But, don’t make it all about your baby. Encourage that your older child spend time with both parents alone and together so that they don’t feel left out. You can also celebrate how they were when they were a baby by looking at baby pictures together.
If they are having a really tough time with the idea of being a big sister or brother, first talk to them about his or her feelings and then consider something more formal like sibling birth classes.
Talk about how big siblings are special and grown-up
There is no better way to show and tell your child how much you love them than by assuring them that they are just as important as their baby brother or sister. You can do this by giving them plenty of attention, spending time with them, and talking about what’s going on in their lives.
Additionally, tell your child that they can be super helpful for their new siblings! Talk about which baby items the baby might need, how to take care of a baby, and perhaps ask if they would like to make or buy a small gift for their baby’s arrival.
While the first few weeks after you bring baby home may be tough, after a little while they will hopefully come to learn that a baby means they get a special new role in your life.
Let your child help pick out things for the new baby
Let your child help decorate the baby’s room, let your child help choose baby clothes, plan the baby’s birthday party, and let your child help plan the baby’s christening or baptism if you are religious, or other special ceremonies if not religious, like a naming ceremony.
As mentioned, they may also want to make or buy a special gift – Something just from them! Let your child pick it so they know it is extra special and just from them.
Give your child some responsibilities, too
When you’re pregnant with a second baby, the first-born are often thrilled by the news, but may then find his or her enthusiasm becomes slightly overshadowed by worries about losing attention and “being replaced by big brother.” That’s why it’s important to give your toddler some responsibilities as well.
Give them something tangible to do during labor and delivery. If you have an older sibling who wants to participate in the birth experience, consider letting him or her bring books from home for you to read aloud while you’re laboring at home. Encourage your spouse to make sure they are engaged and feel important.
Tell your child you would love for their ideas on how to be comfortable during your hospital stay and let them help you get ready for your due date. Talk about what baby things will be needed and which things Momma may need to be comfortable.
And, remind them that they get to help teach the baby to do all of the things they learned as the first child! They will get to help baby talk, and learn how to play with other children, for example! Try drawing on skills they excel at and ask if they could help teach baby.
And, give them responsibility to help make them feel more grown-up (and less likely to feel jealous of their new baby brother/sister). Ask them to help with chores (different chores for different ages, or course) and teach them how to care for new babies by practicing on a baby doll.
More things you can do to prepare for when baby arrives
There are lots of ideas for helping older children welcome their new baby sibling. Here are a few more!
- Read books about siblings: If your child was baby number one, they may not understand what it’s like to have a second child. Reading books that explain the concept of having siblings can help them understand what’s coming up in their life and how they should feel about it.
- Play games with dolls or action figures: This game isn’t just fun—it’s also educational! Talk with your child about how each doll or action figure might react to being told there’s going to be another baby around the house (and maybe even ask them which toy thinks this is the best news ever). This kind of play will give kids practice thinking through some of their own reactions before they come face-to-face with reality again later on down the road when “sibling” actually means “actual person.”
Preparation is key when it comes to preparing your child for a new sibling. It’s important that you let your child know what to expect and give them opportunities to be involved in the process. Involving your child early on will help ensure that they are emotionally ready for the new baby brother’s arrival and will help prevent jealousy once the baby arrives.
Also, watch this video by Intermountain Parents
The video below by InterMountain Parents is in response to a listener’s question about how to prepare a 17-month-old baby for their new sibling. Give it a watch for helpful advice from a healthcare professional.
What can I do to help prepare my child for the arrival of a new sibling?
You can involve your child in the preparation process, have them be a part of the conversation, and talk to them about what to expect. You should also assure them that they are just as important as their baby brother or sister and let them know that they can be super helpful for their new siblings.
How do I involve my child in the preparation process?
You can let your child help decorate the baby’s room, let them help choose baby clothes, plan the baby’s birthday party, and let them help plan the baby’s christening or baptism if you are religious. You can also ask them what they think of having a new baby in the family, what they would like to do for the baby, and what they think about the names you have picked out.
What if my child is having a tough time adjusting to the idea of being a big sister or brother?
If your child is having a tough time adjusting, you should first talk to them about their feelings. Then, consider something more formal like sibling birth classes. You can also celebrate how they were when they were a baby by looking at baby pictures together. Also, encourage them to be a part of the experience by practicing how to change and dress the baby on a baby doll.
How can I ensure my child doesn’t feel left out when the baby arrives?
You can make sure to spend alone time with each parent, continue to spend this special time after the baby comes, and encourage your older child to spend time with both parents alone and together. You should also assure them that they are just as important as their baby brother or sister.
What should I avoid when preparing my child for a new sibling?
You should avoid making it all about the baby and accidentally making your child feel like they are not important or not an equally important part of the family. Instead, encourage them to spend time with both parents and celebrate their special role as a big sibling.
Looking for more articles? Check these out!
- Toddler care and development: Mind, body, and safety
- Finding the perfect child care for your family
- Easy ways to promote cognitive development in preschoolers
- Nursery organization & baby room ideas
Preparing Your Child for a New Sibling by the Child Mind Institute
Preparing Your Child for a New Sibling by Kids Health
How to Prepare Your Older Children for a New Baby by Healthy Children
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